Home Stakeholders Environment Stakeholders Research unit of Energy Engineering and Environmental Protection

Research unit of Energy Engineering and Environmental Protection

Marketing research on CCS by mineral carbonization, CFB waste gasification and SCWG of black liquor and biomass.

The research unit of Energy Engineering and Environmental Protection at Aalto University, School of Engineering operates very actively on many different research fields in Finland and also internationally. The group is led by Professor Mika Järvinen.

We are actively searching new partners and building new consortium around CO2 carbonization and also trying to find other applications for the process, such as extraction of other valuable minerals from different waste streams. We also search for new partners for our new research topics: waste gasification in CFB, super-critical water gasification of biomass and acceptability research.

One of our internationally well-known research topics is concentrated on CO2 capture and storage. We are seeking to exploit the potential of mineral carbonation to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly method for the procurement and storage of CO2. Our approach to CSS aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using alkaline industrial waste materials and by-products and flue-gases rich in CO2 to create CaCO3 products that are marketable to the paper industry. By using waste by-products such as the slags generated in iron and steel making processes and flue gases, costs are kept to a minimum while significantly reducing the associated industrial carbon emissions. Usually, the production of CaCO3 requires limestone to be mined, transported and then submitted to hugely energy intensive calcination processes that emit CO2 but by substituting limestone as the raw source material with industrial alkaline waste by-products; our patent method extinguishes the need for such wasteful activities. Current development work is funded by the Cluster for Energy and Environment (CLEEN Oy) Carbon Capture and storage (CCSP) research programme (2011-2015), the Academy of Finland and Aalto Centre for Entrepreneurship. Recently, our team has been busy scaling up our CSS technique in a pilot CO2 fixation plant. Currently handling around 200 litres, the reactor will need to be significantly larger again to serve commercial purposes. However, before we can begin to think about the stages ahead it is imperative that the processes involved are first understood at every level in the pilot plant. The most challenging task is to be able to control the formation of desired morphology of the PCC in the pilot scale process.

We are currently building and starting a pilot scale circulating fluidized bed waste/biomass gasifier. This will have really broad instrumentation and analysis devices including vertical distributions of temperature, pressure, particle velocity and temperature measurement and also FTIR gas analysis. Our main research interests are related to better understand the effect of size distributions of fuel and sand particles, release of trace elements and heavy metals such as mercury and zinc, formation of tars etc. We also will concentrate on understanding the difference between boundary conditions around the particles in fluidized bed conditions.

 

Supercritical water gasification is a very hot topic at this moment and we want to be actively involved in this and working at the frontier of the research. SCWG has many advantageous features such as high H2 yield and natural separation of inorganic part due to insolubility in SCW. In collaboration with Åbo Akademi University in Finland and Brazil’s University of Sao Paolo, we are carrying out state-of-the-art research into the supercritical water gasification of biomass with the intention of studying process options that could be a feasible industrial-scale. Our future objective 2015-16 is to build a small scale pilot plant. Our plan is to build a bigger project around this topic during 2014-2015 and we are actively searching partners who have experience on supercritical equipment such as pumps, solid-gas separators, high pressure windows etc. Our main focus in this topic will be on black liquor that has half of the solids formed of inorganic species.

 

Social acceptability research in Aalto University in co-operation with University of Helsinki presents real pioneering work in combining engineering and social sciences into developing more sustainable and acceptable processes. The first case studies have been the CCS, carbon capture and storage. There are experiences that even the greatest technical and environmental new concepts may fail to reach practice if they cannot be accepted by common people, politicians and other decision makers. We also work on the acceptability issues related to production and use of biomass in heat and power production. Our ultimate objective or vision is that at some point, we can combine the restrictions and limitations defined by acceptability issues into multi-objective optimization routines.

The longest traditions (since 1986) are in spray research and combustion on different fuels, especially black liquor. World class black liquor spraying and combustion modeling research has been carried out in co-operation with Finnish boiler manufacturers and other research units. We also have established new methods to extent droplet size measurements inside the furnace of an operating recovery boiler. We have created active co-operation with the Åbo Akademi’s Combustion Research group, Prof. Mikko Hupa, and mutual projects have continued for over 10 years. We also have a really nicely working co-operation with University of Oulu, Process Metallurgy, prof. Timo Fabritius, and many other units in Finland and abroad.

 

 

Most cited and relevant journal publications:

  • Eloneva, S.; Said, A.; Fogelholm, C-J.; Zevenhoven, R. Preliminary assessment of a method utilizing carbon dioxide and steelmaking slags to produce precipitated calcium carbonate. Applied Energy Journal, 2012. Vol. 90, nro 1, pp. 329-334.
  • Said, Arshe; Mattila, Hannu Petteri; Järvinen, Mika; Zevenhoven, Ron, Production of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) from steelmaking slag for fixation of CO2. Applied Energy, 2013. Vol. 112, pp. 765-771.
  • Järvinen, Mika P.; Pisilä, Sauli; Kärnä, Aki; Fabritius, Timo; Ikäheimonen, Topi; Kupari, Pentti, Fundamental Mathematical Model for AOD Process. Part I: Derivation of the Model. Steel Research International, 2011. Vol. 82, nro 6, 638-649.
  • Kainiemi, Laura; Eloneva, Sanni; Järvinen, Mika, An assessment of the uncertainties related to bioenergy applications. Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, 2014. Vol. 25, nro 3, pp. 301-312.
  • Kankkunen, A., Miikkulainen, P., Järvinen, M. and Fogelholm, C.-J. Shape characteristics of non-spherical black liquor droplets, Pulp and Paper Canada, 106(12): 71-74 (2005).
  • Kohl, Thomas; Laukkanen, Timo; Järvinen, Mika; Fogelholm, Carl-Johan, Energetic and environmental performance of three biomass upgrading processes intergrated with a CHP plant. Applied Energy, 2013. Vol. 107, pp. 124-134.